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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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it's very possible. Your options are going to depend on more what OS you prefer to run. Beyond, what you plan to do other than the OP in the future. Mainly in the live tv and DVR realm. OSX is very limited in software. I haven't kept up on it, but I think EyeTV may be your only option now, and I don't think it's certified for QAM channels, just ClearQAM.
Back to your plan....If you're not worried about space consumption on the HDDs--internal or external--then I would just use MakeMKV. You'll have your choices on what audio you want available from what is on the disc. If you want to save space, you'll want to use Handbrake. I personally use MakeMKV and then Handbrake the MKV file to make it smaller. No need to run the optical more than you have to.
From that there, Plex is a very good option for your MKV playback. It's pretty easy to setup. Just need to have good naming conventions on your MKV files and directories. After that, it's just telling where your movies or TV shows are located. THe other benefit, Plex is mobile platform friendly, so you can watch on the go. And you are correct, no menus. You setup Plex to play HD audio by default;, otherwise you can change it easily once the movie starts in the "m" key and go to audio.
I believe XBMC is an option, but I have no idea where their OSX build stands. I mention them because XMBC is a bit more friendly for ISOs. I don't believe XMBC does menus either. On the Windows side, you can setup it up to use an external player that does.
If you really like the special features and watch them more than once, you rip the individually, and just setup another library for them. Like Amazon does with movies and movie extras.
That's the basic run down. I didn't get into settings and so forth. Personally, I would suggest Windows over OSX, not because it's so great. There are more application options, larger community, and in some cases, hardware options. Plus, I don't believe OSX side or either XBMC or Plex can do HD audio.
The Mini itself it fine. I believe for HD audio, you'll need a 2012 model or later. You may want to check on the video side. I've read there could be some issues with the IBM GPU chip and rendering video. Beyond that, get at least dual core 2.0ghz or faster, and 4GB RAM. If you're going to transcoding such as Plex or Handbrake (especially), you're going to want a much faster CPU; I would suggest four cores because they're CPU intense activities; not GPU. I haven't had big issues with Plex on my Late 2009 model D2C 2.66ghz 4GB RAM. But I can't do HD audio.